This is Yellowstone Repertory Theatre, the brainchild of actor and director Craig Huisenga and co-founders and fellow actors Dina Brophy and Caitlin Hart. Their mission: dare the artist, and captivate and inspire the audience. How? By establishing a company of professional directors, actors, and technicians to offer compelling, poignant, thought-provoking plays ranging from classics by Shakespeare, Arthur Miller, and Lillian Hellman to contemporary, award-winning playwrights such as Sarah Ruhl, John Patrick Shanley, and Sam Shepard.
How Yellowstone Repertory Theatre came to be
According to an article by Ed Kemmick in Last Best News, Huisenga conceived of a resident professional theatre almost ten years ago. Huisenga loved the idea of bringing great theatre to Billings and eastern Montana. He found kindred spirits in Brophy and Hart, who harbored similar visions and passion.
Why Billings needs Yellowstone Repertory Theatre
Montana’s largest city boasts active community theatres, including Billings Studio Theatre and Sacrifice Cliff Theatre Company, so it prompts the question: “Why do we need another?” The answer begins at the difference between community and professional theatre. Community theatre focuses on participation—providing an opportunity for local actors and theatre artists to come together. In community theatre, actors work for the love of the stage rather than a wage.
Professional theatres pay their artists. Yellowstone Repertory Theatre intends to pay all actors for their training, commitment, and talent. Additionally, it aims to hire members of Actors Equity (the union for stage actors) and attract talent from larger regional cities, such as Seattle, Denver, and Minneapolis. “Paying actors is important to us and to the audience because we can expect more from those performers,” Huisenga says. “They’re well trained, and deeply committed to the rehearsal and production process.”
Actor wages aren’t the only consideration. The founding actors also saw a need to develop an ensemble—a group of artists who work together consistently and collaboratively over the course of years to develop a distinct and elevated theatrical experience for the audience and the artists. Yellowstone Repertory Theatre will bring this approach to its company, establishing a benchmark that Billings will take pride in.
Meet Craig, Dina, and Caitlin
The three founders are hardworking, professional actors with more than 60 years of theater experience combined. They’re longtime, active citizens in the Billings community. They’re dedicated to their families, their town, and their art, and they want their work to enrich their audience and their craft. They showcased what they can do with outstanding performances in Sacrifice Cliff Theatre Company’s production of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and their inaugural production for Yellowstone Repertory Theatre—Doubt, A Parable by John Patrick Shanley—promises to do the same. It will captivate. It will inspire. It will provoke thought.
But they can’t do it alone.
Yellowstone Repertory Theatre needs you.
Because Craig, Dina, and Caitlin believe nonprofits embody the best of the human spirit and serve to educate and nurture communities, Yellowstone Repertory Theatre has obtained and will maintain that status. Your generosity will help them to realize their mission as well as support the Billings community you care about.
“These are shows that we know people are interested in seeing, based on audience feedback,” says Dina. Caitlin adds, “I’m excited about the opportunity we have to not only create great art, but to really build community.”
An ensemble, if you will.
Thank you for joining them.